How to shrink a partition with unmovable files in Windows 7

Posted on April 3rd, 2011 in General by Brandon

For some reason Windows can’t figure out how to move some files around on disk. When attempting to shrink a volume, it will only allow you to shrink it to where the last immovable file is located. These are some things I found necessary to temporarily get rid of those immovable files so that an NTFS volume could be shrunk

1- Disable System Restore (Right click on Computer => Properties => System Protection => System Restore)
2- Disable Virtual Memory (Right click on Comptuer => Properties => Advanced System Settings => Performance (Settings) => Advanced Tab => Virtual Memory (Change) => No Paging File => Set.
3- Run Disk Cleanup to get rid of Thumbnails, Temporary Internet Files, and a bunch of other files that it makes no sense why they are immovable.
4- Restart the computer to have #1 and #2 take effect

Try to shrink the volume again. If it still is unreasonably large, you will then have to look at Event Viewer to find which file is at the boundary.
1- Right click on Computer => Manage => Event Viewer => Windows Logs => Application.
2- Click on Filter Current Log, and put ’259′ for the Event ID
3- Click on the latest event and look through the detail to find the problematic file. You can then attempt to delete that file (or set of files) manually. You may have to restart into safe mode to delete some files

It took me about 5 loops of doing the above before I was finally able to shrink my volume to the size that I wanted. After successful, you can then re-enable the features that you want (namely System Restore and Virtual Memory)

8 Responses to 'How to shrink a partition with unmovable files in Windows 7'

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  1. Nate Carr said,

    on August 21st, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Great tutorial!

  2. BigBig said,

    on November 29th, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Thanks! Useful tips. Trying to clone 500GB system disk to a 250GB Intel510 SSD and needed to re-size partition, but the OS would only let me shrink to 283GB at first..

  3. Rob said,

    on January 5th, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    Thanks so much for this, it helped me loads, especially the event viewer part. I found I also had system restore and thumbnail files that couldn’t be moved, but using the event log I also found that I needed to disable cryptographic services and then rename/delete the catroot2 folder in system32, and also disable the search service and then delete the CiFiles that the indexer made.

    Until I had done all of those things, it had immovable files after 100gb of free space; afterwards there were none and I could make the partition as tiny as I liked.

  4. Nikhil said,

    on February 16th, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Thanks. It worked for me. Before following your steps, I had only 5GB shrink-able but I turned off the system restore and (without restarting) I got 70GB free.

  5. huts said,

    on March 30th, 2012 at 1:27 am

    Would it work with SBS2011 ???


  6. on November 16th, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    [...] shrink if there are “unmovable” files: brandonchecketts.com This entry was posted in OS and tagged coffee-there should be some!, facebook, HDD, SSD, WIndows [...]

  7. Nikhat said,

    on December 5th, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    that helpd me alot..really really great tutorial..!!

  8. Adam said,

    on December 24th, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    Another avenue to explore is stopping Cryptographic services. I encountered a problem with this particular file:
    Windows\System32\catroot2\{F750E6C3-38EE-11D1-85E5-00C04FC295EE}\catdb::$DATA

    and found a solution here:
    http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/1906120

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